To Meat or Not to Meat

Red meat is not only potentially bad for people’s health, but it is also bad for our planet’s health. Yet many studies show differing data on whether decreasing red meat consumption would be beneficial.  Photo from the Associated Press.

Red meat is not only potentially bad for people’s health, but it is also bad for our planet’s health. Yet many studies show differing data on whether decreasing red meat consumption would be beneficial. Photo from the Associated Press.

How many times can you recall being misled by information that you read online? Perhaps you were certain about the details of a celebrity gossip story, only for an update to be released the next day that completely changed everything you thought you knew. Or maybe you drew a conclusion from one article about a political debate and later changed your mind after reading several takes from different news sources. You may have even believed that there really are five simple tricks to reduce belly fat in just three days.  

One such questionable message has recently emerged, claiming that there are no health risks associated with consuming red meat. A recent analysis published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine has made headlines as a team of researchers attempted to debunk the recommendation that people should limit their red meat consumption. They argued that the current evidence of health complications from a high intake of red meat is largely baseless, given its roots in observational studies, and therefore encouraged people to continue eating red meat.  

Even if red meat does not have a directly negative impact on one’s health, there is still no disadvantage to decreasing red meat consumption.  Photo by Simona Todorova on Unsplash

Even if red meat does not have a directly negative impact on one’s health, there is still no disadvantage to decreasing red meat consumption. Photo by Simona Todorova on Unsplash

If you are an avid fan of burgers and steak, validation of your red meat intake may sound like excellent news. However, the conclusions drawn in this analysis have not been confirmed. In fact, this claim has been called into question by experts such as those at the Harvard School of Public Health, who found contradictions in the statements the new study presented. The Harvard experts stood by the previous assertions that overeating red meat has been linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and premature death. 

Red meat is not only potentially bad for people’s health, but it is also certainly bad for our planet’s health. The burden of meat production on our planet is significant given the amount of resources required to raise livestock to produce beef; one kilogram of beef is equivalent to approximately 25 kilograms of grain and 15,000 liters of water. Moreover, 30% of the earth alone is devoted to raising livestock. While it is understandable that many people do not want to eliminate meat from their diet, it is vital for the conservation of the Earth that people at least limit the amount of meat they consume. 

It may be unclear who to believe in this situation, but what is clear is that the harm of publishing these findings far outweighs any possible benefits. If the new findings are wrong, people who eat red meat on account of this study will suffer by unknowingly putting their health at risk. 

Even if red meat does not have a directly negative impact on one’s health, there is still no disadvantage to decreasing red meat consumption. 

As humans, it is nearly impossible for us to carry out an isolated action that has no reverberating effect; almost everything we do has a consequence. Hence, eating a burger is not as simple as satiating a craving. That simple action affects both our health and our environment, and it is thus our responsibility to ensure that we are properly educated on important topics such as the wellness of our bodies and our planet so that we can make good choices.  

The controversy surrounding these allegations raises a valuable point about how we should evaluate information we find online to make educated decisions. The internet has given the average person access to an incredible amount of information in ways that were unfathomable a mere 30 years ago. However, the potential to educate oneself via the internet is significantly hindered by the plethora of inaccuracies and false information that abounds online. It is now easier than ever to be led astray by erroneous claims, but that is not an excuse to blindly believe everything one reads. It just means that it is even more essential for individuals to conduct adequate research and consider multiple factors before deciding on a stance.  


Veronica Eskander is a contributor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at veronica.eskander@uconn.edu.